how we test
LASER RANGEFINDERS ARE really just intricate timepieces, designed to measure the length of time an emitted beam of light takes to return to the unit from a reflected surface. Because the speed of light is constant, the time lapse reveals the distance to the target. Our test determined each unit’s sensitivity and maximum range capability by lasing three types of targets: reflective (steel barn roofs from 1,200 to 2,400 yards), non-reflective (a bear hide at 100 yards), and a series of shrubs anywhere from 400 to 1,200 yards. We also measured each unit’s minimum-distance capability. Then we judged accuracy by lasing a series of targets at known distances in various light conditions. We measured speed of scans by lasing moving vehicles on a highway at 1,200 yards, and we measured the clarity of the image and visibility of the display in different light conditions. The other half of our test assessed more subjective attributes: the features and amenities offered by each unit, its ergonomics, versatility at a range of tasks, and how well the unit performed the job for which it was intended. The unit with the highest score won our Editor’s Choice award; the best value score was named our Great Buy.
Each rangefinder was evaluated on five objective criteria, which included lasing targets with a widely varied degree of reflectivity.